WORLD WAR II
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Admin/Biog History Robert D. Nash was born in Oshkosh, WI on November 17, 1916, the son of Harry and Antoinette Nash. His father died when he was a child and his mother supported the family as a maid at the Athearn Hotel. He graduated from Oshkosh High School in 1933 and attended the Oshkosh State Teachers College and graduated from the University of Wisconsin (Madison). He was working for an advertising agency in Chicago, Illinois when he enlisted in the US Army Air Force in November 1942 . He received his training in Topeka, Kansas and Miami, Florida. He became a navigator on B-24 "Liberator" bombers and flew numerous bombing missions out of North Africa beginning in April 1943. His plane was shot down on August 1, 1943 and he was reported as missing in action. He was officially declared killed in action in August 1945.
Classification Archives
Collection Winnebago County Historical Commission
Dates of Accumulation 1943
Abstract Letter from Robert D. Nash, 345th Bomber Squadron, 98th Bomb Group, Army Air Force, to his mother, Antoinette Nash and sister Pat Nash, in Oshkosh, WI.

Tuesday the Twentieth [1943]
Dear Little Wrens,
My! But I'm not the world's best correspondent. Not that I've been working all the time but rather that I've been seeing the country I've been passing through. I haven't been to Egypt for such a long time, don't you know.
Egypt. I'm a bit hampered in the narrative in that I'm not supposed to mention our route, even though I noticed a big write up of it in a back issue of LIFE, and noticed just this morning a map of the route on the inside front cover of the SatEvePost.[Saturday Evening Post]. But I can tell you the first glimpse I had of Egypt consisted of a horizon-wide vista of golden sand, and as I look out the window now I can, if [I] look the right way, see sand as far as the sunset. Then the second thing I noticed about Egypt was the Nile. It isn't an especially wide river like the Amazon, nor a dirty, dried-up river like the Niger. It reminds me most of the Rio Grande, especially of the cultivated part of the Rio Grande Valley in Arizona above El Paso. An eighth of a mile on either side of the Nile are palm trees and rich green fields. And from there to the edge of the world just sand, with maybe a mountain or two to break the landscape.
The airport we landed at was on the outskirts of a Cairo suburb. But even from the airport we could see the very modern skyline. Although Cairo is older than the suburb (I imagine) even its buildings, even its old buildings, have a firm modern look. Maybe it's the crossing of a classical French style with a classical Near-East style that awards even obviously old buildings with a pleasing freshness. Most all apartment buildings have balconies on at least half the windows, but I never saw a building that looked cluttered. Cairo is big and Cairo is crowded. The streets are narrow but not as much as New York's. The business and shopping district looks more like Michigan Avenue than State Street, and above all because of the lack of smoke and dust, it looks clean and bright.
But you can't enjoy the beauty long. Before you know it the Wogs, the Egyptians that is, pounce on you. Americans are the fabulous people. Americans are all amazingly rich. Let's help them spend their money. The basic unit is the piaster (pee-AS-ter), worth about four cents. It flows like mercury. You change five bucks in the morning, getting 22 to 25 piasters for the dollar, and at night-or maybe long before that, you're out of Wog money. I don't know where it goes and everyone else is just as bewildered. It just goes.
You might want to know about Sheppards Hotel, since it has been the social headquarters for military men in Egypt since the Crimean War, at least. We couldn't get a room there so we stayed in one of the numerous "pensions" about five blocks away and went there Sheppards right after breakfast. (The pension, French for a quasi-hotel that takes paying guests) was cheaper too. We paid about P.T.40 ($1.60) for a night's lodging with breakfast, tea, and a hot bath thrown in. I never noticed any hot water though.
In the last place we stayed in, "Herford House, Officers Only", the rooms were on the third floor and the Wog waiter, once you made him understand what you wanted for breakfast, yelled down your order to the kitchen on the floor below! Breakfast never varied from tea, scrambled eggs, tea, and grapefruit, but it was always the best meal of the day. A basic order like that is hard even for an Egyptian to spoil.
Ah yes the pyramids. In front of Sheppards, throngs of dragomen, or guides nail you every time you so much as step off the great verandah. Their English isn't bad of course, but they are imperious to the word "No". The only word that has any result at all is the Arabic "Emshee!" which means "Go away!" but apparently has the force of the American "Go to hell!"
We told the cab starter where we wanted to go and he passed up a line of taxis to hail a veritable battleship of a cab. This was all right with us, since you soon get in the habit of estimating a cab's durability: whether it will reach destination before breaking down or not.
The cabby, the starter, and the four of us yelled at each other for about five minutes and finally agreed upon P.T.150 for the round trip, with the cabby taking a different route back from the Pyramids. (Thinking it over now, I believe we paid about double-but that's pretty good in a country where you expect to pay triple.)
At the pyramids we stopped and landed in the hands of one Mohammed, a Bedouin about fifty who looked as if he had just had a fillet from his own grandmother. Mohammed took us in hand and since we didn't know a pyramid from a scareb we decided to go with him. We couldn't lose anything but our wallets anyway, so what the hell.
The other three hired horses to take them up the hill to the main pyramid (there are three big ones here with the Sphinx) and I, still afraid of horses, meditated between a camel and an ass, and decided to walk. Camels look too much like Egyptians anyway, and the ass-well…
Well sir, the pyramids are just the way they look in postal cards, big blocks of sandstone piled up and up and up. I remember reading in H.G. Wells how their construction ruined Egypt, economically and physically. I believe it. There is a massiveness to them that rises up above the petty commerce of the bickering Bedouins at their bases, towers above them up into history.
I learned they were originally covered with marble but an Egyptian noble stole the marble to build a house. I wasn't surprised.
(A lad writing next to me here in the officers club wants to know whatcha [what you] call these dames what wear veils. I tell him "Moslems".)
I had semi-date with a French young lady who had a lot of trouble understanding me since I didn't feel compelled to talk in slangless English but claimed she had a good time. She even gave me her phone number and address, which for a strictly raised French girl must have been quite a decision to make. She was twenty-two and and compared, I'd say, to an eighteen-year old American girl as far as sophistication goes. But she was good company as was her companion.
And this is about all. My love to y'all with kisses to match,
Bob
Event World War II
Category 8: Communication Artifact
Legal Status Oshkosh Public Museum
Object ID RG71.19.1
Object Name Letter
People Nash, Robert
Subjects World War II
United States Army Air Force
Casualties
North African Campaign
Bombers
Navigation
Title Letter
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Last modified on: December 12, 2009